Day 1: Saratoga to Capitola

9 April 2011

It had rained the day before, but Saturday the 9th was sunny and sun was forecast for the following week along the entire coast (we did end up getting sunny weather for the entire week). The first day's ride would take us to Capitola, just east of Santa Cruz. It was a chilly morning, and we were slow to get started, but we eventually headed out from my house. Piaw joined us for the morning's ride.

Phil, Kalvin, Sue, Yoyo, and Ed

Kalvin would drive the first leg, meeting us at the Summit Store in Los Gatos. Yoyo and I carried all our own belongings in our saddlebags, just for "fun", but the others had the good sense to put most of their things in the car.

I had taken Hwy 9 to Los Gatos many times before, and the ride was uneventful, though it took some time for us to warm up. We took the Los Gatos Creek Trail (consisting there of a gravel road) up to the dam (where we returned to paved road). Piaw pointed out that Sue and Ed should adjust their seats to the correct height, so we stopped at the dam to make some quick adjustments.

Dam at Lexington Reservoir

Alma Bridge Rd wound up and down, following the edge of the reservoir, and then Old Santa Cruz Highway was a shaded climb through the redwoods. Piaw left us at Mt. Charlie Road; Yoyo, Ed, Sue, and I continued to the summit.

We were making good time and arrived at the Summit Store well before I had told Kalvin to expect us there. We ate our lunches (the Summit Store has a delicious hot foods bar, which includes excellent ribs) and waited for Kalvin.

Kalvin soon arrived at the Summit Store and parked the car. We then found out that he had locked the keys in the car! We called AAA and then milled around waiting for them to arrive. The better part of an hour passed before the AAA driver found us. We switched drivers, with Sue driving down to Capitola and Kalvin biking the descent.

The descent down Soquel San Jose was fast, smooth, and fun. The turns are well banked and I didn't need to use my brakes for many miles. The road dumped us out in Capitola and we only had to travel a few blocks to the hotel. Sue had already checked in.

Best Western Plus Capitola By-The-Sea

It was only mid-afternoon and we still had plenty of daylight, so I left my belongings at the hotel and we set out for Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. This was due west along the coast and there was a formidable headwind. The cliffs along the coast were simply stunning, though. We reached the beach (a ride of some 8 miles), though at some point before we got there, Kalvin decided he had had enough of the headwind and would stay put until we returned.

Natural Bridges is a small beach, but it has this one vantage point from which you can see the iconic arch/bridge:

Natural Bridges State Park

We returned to the hotel, this time with the wind at our backs, and had dinner at a burger joint a short walk away. The place was called Betty Burger and every menu item was some sort of double entendre.

After dinner I enjoyed the hot tub and pool, though the power went out three times that evening. I slept early while the others played Settlers of Catan on their computers.

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